Today we have the second part of our three part 2014 Louisville Cardinals Football Preview series with a look at the defense. This is probably the part of the team that will have changed the most from last years program. We will show you what’s changed, what to watch for, and what to expect this year.
The short version of what has changed can be summed up as just about everything. Bobby Petrino is known as an offensive specialist which is a complete 180 from the Charlie Strong regime. He’s hired a new defensive coordinator in Todd Grantham from Georgia, who is installing a new 3-4 defensive scheme. The Cards lose their 2 best defensive players in the first round of the draft in Marcus Smith and Calvin Pryor, as well as two other defensive staples in Preston Brown and Hakeem Smith. What hasn’t changed may be a shorter list.
Lorenzo Mauldin LB
Mauldin will be the face of the defense this year as the senior is coming off his best year with 9.5 sacks an 40 tackles. He’s shown the ability to get to the quarterback and will upon to that again this year along with coverage assignments. With the switch to the 3-4 base defense, the coaches have moved Mauldin to outside linebacker and will use his athleticism to rush off the end and drop into coverage.
Terell Floyd S
This is another senior that is getting moved in his final year. Floyd was a starting CB the last two years but with both starting safeties gone, it was a logical move. There is more depth at the CB and Floyd has a knack for interceptions with 7 over the past two years, and that ability will help at safety.
I tend to think of myself as a generally optimistic guy, but I am also a realist. It is highly unlikely to see the type of defensive number the Cards had again this year. We’ve lost too much talent, that schedule is too strong, and it is going to take some time for the transition in Grantham’s 3-4 defense to take hold. the good news, however, is that the defense will not have to be relied upon as much as last year. It’s ok to give up 28 points if you are scoring 35 and Petrino has always lived by that philosophy. The front 7 should be solid against the run and if they can patch together a mediocre secondary, it just may be enough to get the job done.